March 24, 2022

Review: Classic Monsters Unleashed

Classic Monsters Unleashed Classic Monsters Unleashed by James Aquilone
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I bought this book through Kickstarter. At the end of its pledge period, it turned into the biggest-grossing horror anthology on the platform. That wasn't the reason I pledged; the concept intrigued me. I've bought several niche anthologies through Kickstarter, projects that I knew full well no major publisher would take on. The promised gorgeousness of the finished hardcover was another reason I signed on, a promise that has been completely fulfilled. This book is so heavy and stout it could easily be used as a weapon against a werewolf or a vampire, and the interior illustrations are suitably retro and creepy.

Having said all that, most of the stories are....average. I can tell the editor tried his best to get fresh new spins on the werewolf/vampire/lagoon creature/blob/mummy/classic monster tropes, but after a while the stories started to blur together. The best stories are "You Can Have the Ground, My Love," by Carlie St. George, a feminist take on the Bride of Frankenstein, and "The Invisible Man: The Fire This Time," by Maurice Broaddus, which begins with a quote from James Baldwin: "The glorification of one race and the subsequent debasement of another or others has always been and always will be a recipe for murder." Fusing that sentiment with the Invisible Man trope leads to a climax of sudden shocking violence--that isn't entirely unearned.

The book itself, though, is beautiful. I don't regret pledging for it, but I do wish it had more standout stories.

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